[Met Performance] CID:158680
La Bohème {459} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/18/1952.


Metropolitan Opera House
January 18, 1952


Mimì....................Bidú Sayao
Rodolfo.................Giacinto Prandelli
Musetta.................Patrice Munsel
Marcello................Giuseppe Valdengo
Schaunard...............Clifford Harvuot
Colline.................Nicola Moscona
Benoit..................Lorenzo Alvary
Alcindoro...............Alessio De Paolis
Parpignol...............Paul Franke
Sergeant................Carlo Tomanelli

Conductor...............Alberto Erede

Review of Quaintance Eaton in Musical America

The sixth performance of "La Bohème" was notable for Giacinto Prandelli's first Rodolfo here and for Bidu Sayao's postponed re-entry as Mimi. These two breathed whatever interest there was in the Puccini work, for the remainder of the cast seemed noisy and posturing puppets and Alberto Erede showed so little affinity for the beautiful score that it emerged juiceless and stringy under his beat. When the lovers held the stage, however, the work came to life, because both realized the acting values in their roles and created scenes of poignance and credibility.

Mr. Prandelli's voice is not the most flexible or beautiful one in the tenor roster, but he used it so well that one was never conscious of deficiency except, perhaps, in the lack of real ring in the high C at the climax of the narrative and in certain outbursts in the third act. The tenor was rather lost at first against the boisterousness of Giuseppe Valdengo's Marcello. With the narrative, however, his stature as an artist began to appear. His voice, carefully shaded, was well paired with Miss Sayao's; her voice had not its full luster, but her directness as an actress counted for a great deal. Both singers, in fact, were so communicative that the third-act duet and death scene brought tears to the eyes. Mr. Prandelli sang the duet with Marcello at the [beginning] of the third act as if he really meant it, addressing his words to Mimi's bonnet, while Mr. Valdengo addressed his unrestrained voice to the audience. The tenor was always the poet-lover of the story; never the opera singer beaming tones to the claque.

Miss Sayao dared to play the death scene much closer to real illness than I remember ever seeing-from her or anyone else. It was unnerving, but enormously affecting, to watch her struggles with a consuming cough, the hopeless and instinctive gesture of covering her mouth with her hand, the pale countenance contorted with emotion and disease. Her final paroxysm brought her head low over the muff ; when the two bohemians discovered that she was lifeless, she fell inert on the pillow with her head thrown back in a very real approximation of death. If she had not sung so well, even with her somewhat limited resources of volume, this would have been uncomfortably close to grisliness. As it was, one could only applaud the fulfillment of the character.

No one approached these two in histrionics, except Alessio de Paolis, whose marvelous bit as Alcindoro gave a real lift to the second act. Patrice Munsel seemed colorless and subdued as Musetta, although she sang very well. Nicola Moscona, who sang his first Colline of the season, delivered the coat song commendably, but, made up as he was, he seemed too old and creaky to be capering about riding chairs and dancing quadrilles. Clifford Harvuot was an earnest but ineffectual Schaunard. Lorenzo Alvary was an acceptable Benoit. The practice of dividing this role from Alcindoro's seemed a good one. Paul Franke and Carlo Tomanelli had the two remaining roles.

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